Fatima Ronquillo’s recent explorations in mythological studies influence her latest work, which is a continuation of her charming, classically inspired painting style. The Santa Fe artist borrows techniques and styles from European Old Masters, Spanish Colonial artists and other genres from the past; she then blends this Old World aesthetic with modern ideologies. Ronquillo often illustrates themes from literature, opera or theater through playful and witty narratives. Lately, epics and tales from Greek mythology have taken over her pre-conceived storylines.
For this year’s solo show, Ronquillo has created a series of paintings that are set on the fabled island of Arcadia, which in ancient Greek mythologies was an unspoiled utopia representing idyllic happiness. Ronquillo’s overarching theme through this body of work is the search for Arcadia and that unreachable idea of a perfect society. The journey begins with “The Cartographer,” whose central figure stands in front of an allegorical map of Arcadia. Other pieces in the show illustrate scenes from this paradise. In “Homecoming,” Hebe the goddess of youth and beauty offers a cup of ambrosia to a crowned eagle. Poised next to her on a stone ledge is a bowl filled with fruits and flowers of the earth, while an ideal landscape reminiscent of Baroque painter Claude Lorrain fills the background.
Local influence seeps into Ronquillo’s mythological subject matter in “The Wanderers,” where a young girl rides a buffalo through a New Mexican landscape, often referred to as the “land of enchantment.” The peregrine falcon and the American bison shown in this piece have symbolic meaning as both have recently rebounded from an endangered species status. “The preservation of wildlife is precarious,” says Ronquillo. “Perhaps our Arcadia ought to be one of a peaceable kingdom.”
Explore Ronquillo’s painted paradise on Friday evening, September 14that the opening reception for “Arcadia.”
~ Kelly Skeen